ALERT workshop + mechanics of root-soil systems (Aussois, octobre 2019)


Dear all,

We would like to draw your attention to a half day session « The mechanics of root-soil systems: from microscopic to macroscopic approaches » , which will take place during the forthcoming ALERT workshop in Aussois (France), next October.

This session will take place on Tuesday 1st October and will consist in some invited lectures plus open flash-talks such that everybody linked to the field could present his/her activities.
Then, if you feel concerned by the subject you can submit an abstract for a flash-talk.

A detailed description of the session is given at the end of this mail or can be found here:
The duration of each flash talk indicated in this description might be longer according to the final organization of the session.

To submit an abstract, please follow the template given here:
and send it directly to the coordinators of the session ( and

Best regards,
Evelyne Kolb and Luc Sibille


The mechanics of root-soil systems: from microscopic to macroscopic approaches


Evelyne Kolb (PMMH & Sorbonne Université,, Luc Sibille (3SR & Université Grenoble Alpes,


The interactions between plant root networks and soils is a wide issue involving many communities from agronomy, soil science, biophysics to soil mechanics and civil engineering. Under non-stressful biological and chemical conditions, the root growth trajectory depends strongly on the mechanical strength of the soil and on the presence of obstacles at the root scale, as root apices must exert a growth pressure to overcome the resistance to deformation of the surrounding soil. Zones of high mechanical resistance are one of the most common physical limitations to soil exploration by roots, limiting the accessibility of the plant to water and nutrients. In turn, soil micro-structure is affected by the root development. Soil particles may be dragged by the root and, more generally, local soil deformations are induced by the root growth. The transfers of water between the soil and the plant as well as the root exudates and production of mucilage change locally the soil properties and modify the distribution of the aqueous phase in the porous network.  In addition, the mechanical properties of the soil are highly dependent on the root architecture, as the hierarchical structure formed by roots traps the soil and increases its resistance to shear, reinforcing the stability of slopes or limiting the erosion at river banks.

The objective of this session is to gather people around the mechanics of root-soil systems at different scales and with various experimental techniques, modelling or theoretical approaches: at the field scale to assess the contribution of plant roots to the mechanical stability of soil layers, at the scale of the root system for characterizing, simulating and imaging the whole root architecture and the reorganizations of the soil produced by the root growth, at the scale of the root apex to understand the mechanical feedback between a slender growing object and grains and pores of the soil matrix with given packing fractions and textures.

The session will consist of invited talks, nevertheless a slot will be kept for some flash talks (typically 4 min and 2 slides per speaker) providing an overview of the various research fields in the root-soil interaction. Proposals for communications as flash talks are welcome.


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